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Doctor Illuminatus: A Ramon Llull Reader Paperback – Mar 10 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New translation of "The Book of the Lover and the Beloved" by Eve Bonner edition (March 10 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691000913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691000916
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,358,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"A new collection of writings extracted from the two-volume compilation of the Catalan philosopher, mystic, and martyr, who lived from 1232 to 1316."--Parabola

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THE Book of the Gentile and the Three Wise Men should be seen not only as Llull's most important apologetic and polemical work, but also as part of a long tradition of such works. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Paperback
For all practical purposes, this book is the primary introduction to Ramon Llull available in English. Llull is a difficult figure to come to terms with, for various reasons, and I must admit that I left this book feeling a bit more confused than I was when I started.
There are two components of this book: Llull's writings themselves (not by any means all of them, which would require much more space, and Professor Bonner has already released a two-volume anthology in addition to this book) and Professor Bonner's commentary. From the very start, it's difficult for us to even begin to conceive of Llull's place in his own world. Llull was born in Mallorca, which had only been reconquered from the Muslims a few years before his birth, thus raising the prospect that he experienced some cultural crosscurrents in his youth. He spent his earlier years as a courtier, and more specifically as a troubador, which also could raise suspicions about his background. After a conversion experience, Llull became a tertiary Franciscan, a designation defining a semi-monastic state not necessarily in permanent orders; presumably, he was considered too old to enter regular orders (he was past thirty). He spoke Arabic fluently, and a great deal of his work is in Arabic.
Professor Bonner defines him primarily as having one major goal in his life: conversion of the Moors, and defines him as a "polemicist", in the terms of the day. On reading his works, one feels that the polemic is missing, and in fact he apparently has so much sympathy for Islam that it looks as if he may have been a crypto-Muslim himself.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Hard to Get your Arms Around Feb. 6 2004
By Thomas F. Ogara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For all practical purposes, this book is the primary introduction to Ramon Llull available in English. Llull is a difficult figure to come to terms with, for various reasons, and I must admit that I left this book feeling a bit more confused than I was when I started.
There are two components of this book: Llull's writings themselves (not by any means all of them, which would require much more space, and Professor Bonner has already released a two-volume anthology in addition to this book) and Professor Bonner's commentary. From the very start, it's difficult for us to even begin to conceive of Llull's place in his own world. Llull was born in Mallorca, which had only been reconquered from the Muslims a few years before his birth, thus raising the prospect that he experienced some cultural crosscurrents in his youth. He spent his earlier years as a courtier, and more specifically as a troubador, which also could raise suspicions about his background. After a conversion experience, Llull became a tertiary Franciscan, a designation defining a semi-monastic state not necessarily in permanent orders; presumably, he was considered too old to enter regular orders (he was past thirty). He spoke Arabic fluently, and a great deal of his work is in Arabic.
Professor Bonner defines him primarily as having one major goal in his life: conversion of the Moors, and defines him as a "polemicist", in the terms of the day. On reading his works, one feels that the polemic is missing, and in fact he apparently has so much sympathy for Islam that it looks as if he may have been a crypto-Muslim himself. Llull himself cites Sufi influence in some of his work, and one of his major works - "The Book of the Lover and his Beloved" - bears a title that sounds like a direct translation from Arabic.
Llull's major life's work was his "Ars" (which apparently means something in this context like style of presentation) and it is in this area that the book really falls down, in my opinion. Professor Bonner makes constant reference to Llull's "Ars" without ever going into any specific examples as to what it is. It is apparently some system of thought that is supposed to explain all other systems of thought, and it involves the use of diagrams. Based on what I have found in other works it is true that Llull's "Ars" is apparently quite abstruse, and I can only presume that Professor Bonner didn't feel he had enough space to do it justice in this one-volume presentation. However, I was left with a sense that it was either something akin to the Jewish Kabbala or else a thirteenth-century version of Abraham Maslow's diagrams. Neither of these images leaves me any further on.
Llull was both praised and condemned by later generations as an alchemist, a charge which Professor Bonner dismisses by showing that the alchemical works attributed to him were forgeries. Llull has also been beatified by the Vatican, but he has never been canonized; one wonders whether this is was because of the whiff of alchemy in his background or whether his thought was too far out of the Christian mainstream, like Meister Eckhart.
Llull is also considered the founder of Catalan literature, a fact which Professor Bonner devotes no space to, and it would be interesting to place him within this perspective. All in all, I found Professor Bonner's explanations told me too little, and they didn't really prepare me for what I encountered when reading Llull's texts. It would be interesting to see if there is any serious study of Llull's work by a competent Hispanic Arabist on the level of Luce Lopez-Baralt or Father Asin Palacios.
I can't say that the book cleared things up for me. Having said that, I have no recommendation to the reader where he or she should go to find out more. Perhaps Professor Bonner's two-volume work provides more background, but to all appearances it is a specialist work and probably more than the casual reader would care to deal with. There are some websites in Spanish and Catalan that I've encountered that go into some detail regarding the "Ars", but I suspect some New Age revisionism in their content, which is certainly not a charge that can be levelled at Professor Bonner.
In the end, I opt for three stars for the work. If you're interested in Llull this is as good a place to start as any, and better than most, no doubt.
No where is this more apparent than in an extended love poem, in this edition in a fresh readable Nov. 23 2014
By Daniel O'donnell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I acquired a used softcover copy from Goodwill via amazon. First, Ramon Llull is one of the most-studied of Mediterranean medieval mystics, and despite the passage of many centuries, he remains as controversial today as in his age. He was alternately accused of heresy by the Inquisition, and proposed for canonisation by the Roman Catholic Church. Second, by his own account, he had an illumination experience in which he was inspired with a philosophical Art or Work, which formed the foundation for a structure of logic to elucidate Christic theology, which he hoped to use to convert the "Sarracens", for which purpose he learned and wrote in Arabic, and travelled widely. From the perspective of this writer, other theological writers bog down in his significance within Christianity, as he apparently failed in his life work to convert any Muslims to Christianity ... what is most intriguing is that in his attempts to understand Moslems, especially the mystics among them, Llull ended up not unlike them. No where is this more apparent than in an extended love poem, in this edition in a fresh readable, accurate translation, of an extended Sufi poem actually placed in the mouth of a fictional hermit Blaquernas. who admits at least admiration for Sufi mystical poetics: it could be a re-writing of the Sawanih of Ahmad al-Ghazali or the Maqamat al-Qulub of an-Nuri. As such, Llull is a precursor to later Catholic mystics like Teresa of Avila and Juan de la Cruz who also drew from Islamic mystical literature for their work. This volume is an abridgement of a two-volume publication by the same author, and although I have not compared the two editions to see what was set aside, this book seems to contain everything an interested reader could hope for, and makes for a very satisfying account of Llull's life, teachings, and influences. I would recommend it just for the new translation of The Book Of The Lover And The Beloved. - Daniel O'Donnell, Portland Oregon USA
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Good translation with helpful background info Jan. 27 2009
By Duane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Wonderful collection of five of Llull's most important work. Bonner's translations are concise and fluid, very helpful. His introductory remarks to each book fill in historical and biographical information, so you end up with a bio of Llull in addition to his actual writings. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to read Llull in English for the first time.


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